… that this handsome rooster graces a front yard in south Evanston.Submitted photo

… that the Chandler-Newberger Community Center will be closed through April 11 for upgrades to the electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Nobody gets in except the repair folks.

… that the final phase of the Chicago/Sheridan Improvement Project will begin Monday with the water-main installation on Sheridan north of Lincoln. There will be two stages to this replacement project: Lincoln to Central, April 9 through May 22; and Ingleside to Ridge, April 25-June 7. For the first phase – Lincoln to Sheridan – two-way traffic will be maintained, all cars shifted to the east side of Sheridan. In the second – Ingleside to Ridge – phase, northbound traffic will be maintained, and southbound traffic will be directed onto Ridge. As should be expected with construction projects, the City promises that workers – on this project from Plote Construction, Inc., of Hoffman Estates – will attempt to minimize inconveniences to nearby residents. Questions and concerns arising during construction should be directed to Resident Engineer Kevin Wilson, at 847-833-0274. Questions in general about the Chicago Avenue and Sheridan Road reconstruction project should be directed to Sat Nagar, Senior Project Manager, at 847-448-4311, AKA 311.
 The City predicts the project “will make downtown Evanston and the Northwestern campus areas safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, while improving traffic flow and traffic safety.”
TG hears, though, that some folks are skeptical about the lane across Davis Street apparently onto Chicago Avenue.

… that work on the traffic signal at Ridge and Lake was scheduled to begin April 4, adding left-turn signals for Ridge Avenue traffic, both northbound and southbound. The redone intersection will operate similarly to the Ridge/Main Ridge/Oakton intersections, where northbound and southbound traffic will be allowed to flow in one direction at a time, while traffic in the other direction has to stop. Eastbound and westbound traffic on Lake Street will continue to flow in both directions during its signal interval. The change is only on a trial basis, the City says, and conditions will be reevaluated in 2019 before the change is made permanent. Meanwhile, drivers should continue to heed the 25 MPH speed limit on Ridge.

… that the Evanston Police Department has released the results of the St. Patrick’s weekend “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” initiative: one drug arrest for 33 grams of cannabis; one citation for illegal transportation of open alcohol; 79 citations for failure to wear a seat belt; six citations for failure to properly secure a child (unconscionable); 36 citations for cell-phone ordinance violations; 41 citations for speeding; two citations for driving with a suspended license; three citations for driving with no driver’s license; eight citations for no proof of insurance; and 18 other miscellaneous citations.  

… that GasBuddy.com reports that average retail gasoline prices in Chicago rose 4.5 cents per gallon in late March, according to its daily survey of 1,437 gas outlets in Chicago. This compares with the national average that has increased 4.7 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.60 per gallon ($2.62 per gallon in Chicago). Including the change in gas prices in Chicago in late March, prices were 42.7 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and 18.0 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 9.2 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 32.3 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
“The jump at the pump has continued unabated over the last week as oil prices have rallied and the typical spring fever starts to grip energy markets, causing gas prices to continue to accelerate,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. He added, “The Great Lakes led the region as the region cycled one step closer to the final summer-spec gasoline. …  Much of the rest of the country also saw prices rise, albeit a tamer rise.”

… that, speaking of gas, researchers have found that the resurgence in oil-drilling in the  Permian Basin in west Texas has caused the ground to shift 40 inches (about a meter) over the past two-and-a-half years. In EARTH | HUMAN WORLD, Deborah Byrd and Eleanor Imster wrote on March 27 that according to the Texas Railroad Commision, more than 7,000 oil fields now dot the Permian Basin, and “recent increased use of enhanced-recovery practices (like hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking) has resulted in “a substantial impact on U.S. oil production.” In the meantime, a team of researchers from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, has made a startling discovery. They’ve found that large portions of four Texas counties in the Permian Basin are both sinking and uplifting. … The researchers’ statement said, “The [radar] imagery, coupled with oil-well production data from the Texas Railroad Commission, suggests the area’s unstable ground is associated with decades of oil activity and its effect on rocks below the surface of the Earth.” The statement also said the decades of oil production have “destabilized localities populated by small towns, roadways and a vast network of oil and gas pipelines and storage tanks.” The study, published on March 16 in Nature’s peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports, suggests that two giant sinkholes near Wink, Texas, might be just “the tip of the iceberg.”

… that there were fewer pre-season violations of the leaf-blower ordinance this year than in the previous two years, according to information from the City – only three companies, as compared to four last year and 23 in 2016.
The City annually conducts this targeted inspection just prior to the period when powered leaf blowers are allowed each Spring.

From our readers:
TG: Here is a copy of a letter I wrote to Christopher Holt, Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Local Roads & Streets of  IDOT’s District 1. The letter is about aesthetic concerns surrounding the replacement of the Central Street bridge over the North Shore Channel: “Dear Mr. Holt: When we spoke on March 5 you asked me to enumerate our Issues of Concern which I hastened to do in my letter dated March 6. I also enumerated four specific questions that require resolution before the end of 2017’s Phase I. You also asked me to provide some photos illustrating our concerns.
“This will be the first of a series. At this stage the drawings call for standard highway Traffic Barrier Terminal type 6 at both ends of the new Central Street Bridge in a 25 mph zone:
“They are shown here as installed on Green Bay Road between McCormick Boulevard and Noyes Street. As you can see, they are ugly.
“We also were dismayed to find these railing illustrations in the attachments to the Consultant’s recently submitted Phase I Completion Report.
“The working group for Better Bridges believes we can do much better, without compromising safety or breaking the bank on construction costs.
“Richard A. Miller, Leader, Working Group for Better Bridges.”
Mr. Miller copied Mayor Stephen Hagerty, Alderman Eleanor Revelle, a City engineer and “selected residents” [and the RT] on the letter.

TG: You always forget that the name of the street in the south end of town is not “South” but “South Boulevard.” To me it is like you are leaving off the end of the word, such as “Demp,” “Emer,” or “Cus.”
Sorry to complain, but a lot of people have asked me where South Street is. – Mary Lou Smith

From TG: Apologies to you, Ms. Smith, and to all the readers TG has befuddled with brevity that apparently was confusing more than helpful. Stop by our offices any time on Flor.

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that the parking czars were exceptionally generous last month, issuing only warning tickets to residents who parked on streets during posted street-sweeping hours that had been changed from last year. Readers will probably remember that the City Council approved changes in street-sweeping days and times for some zones. And readers who did not remember – or did not know – parked the old way anyway but in this instance did not have to pay a fine. So now the City is in full street-cleaning mode, so everyone should heed those signs.

… that Evanston is fortunate to have Richard Miller as a watchdog on the Central Street Bridge Replacement project. Aesthetics are very important to the ambiance of any community. And it is not always the case that something pleasing to the eye is costly to the pocketbook.